The Greens Are Planning A National Campaign To Move Australia Day
Much to the federal government’s frustration, the campaign to change the date of Australia Day just keeps gathering steam. In the last few months we’ve seen multiple local councils vote to ditch their January 26 celebrations, as well as a growing national debate spurred on by triple j’s decision to move the Hottest 100 to another day.
Now, the Greens say they’ll be making changing the date one of their top policy priorities this year — and they’ve apparently got a big campaign in the works to help make it happen.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale told Fairfax yesterday that the party is planning to use their presence on over 100 local councils around the country to push for the date to be changed, pointing to the examples of Yarra, Darebin and Fremantle, which have all voted to move their citizenship ceremonies and other Australia Day celebrations from January 26.
“All Australians want a day on which we can come together and to celebrate our wonderfully diverse, open and free society — but January 26 is not that day,” Di Natale told Fairfax.
“It’s time that we stop papering over an issue that for 200 years has been so divisive and painful for so many of our citizens.”
History. The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on 26 January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Aus Day consistently as a public holiday pic.twitter.com/OjJThTXZ9D
— Ellie (@elliemail) January 12, 2018
If you need a refresher on why that is, here you go: January 26 is the date the First Fleet arrived in Australia — or rather, the date the First Fleet came and invaded the land of the Eora nation. As Indigenous people have pointed out again and again, it’s a pretty devastating anniversary for Australia’s First Nations people, and really not an ideal day for an upbeat national celebration.
This really shouldn’t be controversial or news at this point. As Dan Sultan put it once in an interview, “it’s the fucking history of this country. It’s not our opinion, it’s fucking what happened, and is happening”. There have been so many explanations of why it’s so important — and so easy — to just change the date. And yet the government continues to push back, deriding pushes to change the date as everything from unnecessary to unimportant.
“There are more important things to talk about than the date of Australia Day!”
“Ok, let’s talk about Treaty.”
“Indigenous representation in govt?”
“Reducing incarceration rates?”
“Reversing funding cuts”
— IndigenousX Pty Ltd (@IndigenousXLtd) January 11, 2018
In the lead-up to January 26 this year, Di Natale said the federal Greens had already begun writing to local councils, offering them resources and support to help bolster local change the date campaigns. On the Greens party website, there’s a petition supporters can sign, along with a pretty succinct description of why it’s so important we change the date. You can find that here.
If you want to know more about the history of Australia Day and the reasons to change the date, IndigenousX have a wonderful series of articles on it here. Even if you think you know the history already, they’re well worth a read.